Viewpoint – October 2017

Scale ModelWorld takes place on 11-12 November 2017 and yes, it really is a whole year since the last one took place. It is the annual jamboree for IPMS (UK), a chance for us to get together as a group, to admire the outstanding quality of the competition entries, to meet up with old friends and make new ones, to watch that cash disappear from your wallet quicker than you believed possible and listen to your credit card screaming for mercy…

Best of all, we get to share it with the rest of the modelling community too. Scale ModelWorld is open to the public every year and all are welcome. It is the greatest model show on the planet, with over 10,000 visitors expected across the weekend, visitors who hail from all corners of the world, from Wolverhampton to Washington DC and from Telford to Tokyo. It’s not just the visitors who come from afar. Every year we add new overseas names to the roster of traders who are keen to part you from your money.

I already have my shopping list and it is danger of getting longer. This year I’m concentrating on replacing and upgrading some of my modelling tools. Continue reading “Viewpoint – October 2017”

Viewpoint – September 2017

In my last column I mentioned that I’d recently completed an M577 Command Vehicle. The kit is an old one that Tamiya first released in the mid 1970s. They have re-issued it periodically over the subsequent decades and it’s still the only 1/35 scale kit of this M113 variant available. The Tamiya M113 kits get a bad press these days and the general consensus is that the Academy kits are much better – and the brand new AFV Club M113 is said to be the bee’s knees, not that I’ve actually seen one so I’ll reserve judgement. Neither am I in a rush to buy it. I don’t ‘need’ it but since the M113 is a particular favourite of mine I’ll almost certainly pick one up in the next year or two.

Maybe I’m a contrary individual but I can’t see that much ‘wrong’ with the Tamiya kits. Sure, they are 40 years old and some of the parts show that, but the fundamentals are good and they provide a brilliant starting point for the type of project that I really enjoy. I also like the Academy M113s, but not to the extent that I’d refuse to buy a Tamiya one.

Almost on the back of the M577 project I’ve started tinkering around with an M1 Abrams detailing project. It’s going to be an original M1 rather than a current M1A2 SEP. The M1 is my era, the period when I really got into modelling in a serious way. The vehicles that were around in the 1980s and 1990s have an appeal that keeps drawing me back. Once again it’s an old Continue reading “Viewpoint – September 2017”

Viewpoint – August 2017

Modelling is all about time. You might argue that it’s about building or technique or perhaps that it’s about history but ultimately, like most craft-based hobbies, it takes time. A simple build project can easily absorb 10-15 hours even it you don’t think of it in those terms, whilst a really complex project might take ten or twenty times that. It all depends on how you want to approach the hobby you enjoy – and if you’re reading this column and buying this (or any other) magazine about the hobby, then I’d argue that you have taken that fundamental step between the casual model assembler to the serious hobbyist.

But should we be measuring our hobby in hours? Does that really matter? If I measure my projects at all it’s in the context of the time elapsed from start to finish rather than actual build time. A model might take three months from start to finish but that isn’t actual bench time because I have other calls on my time. In fact I would question whether it is possible to accurately measure actual build time. What does ‘this model took 50 hours to build’ mean? Does it include preparation time when you are researching? Does it include those evenings when you sit down at your bench for three hours but actually achieve nothing at all (or perhaps that’s just me…)?

I’ve just finished a project I started six years ago. I’d long wanted to build an M577 Command Vehicle in the 1970s MASSTER camouflage scheme. I probably only committed about four months to it in terms of construction, Continue reading “Viewpoint – August 2017”

Viewpoint – July 2017

The inspiration for this column’s monthly themes comes from a wide range of sources, some of them obvious and others less so. Sometimes those ideas are easy to find but often I am scratching around for something on which to base my monthly ramblings. This month has been one of the easier ones and returns to a subject I talk about from time to time – the nature of model shows.

I’ve just returned from one the shows I attend each year. It’s the MAFVA Nationals and I’ve been going for almost as long as I’ve been a member. I joined MAFVA roughly the same time as I joined IPMS (UK) and I happily split my loyalties between the two. Neither am I the only current or former member of the IPMS Committee to have memberships of both organisations. As a long term MAFVA member I would be attending the Nationals anyway, but I have the added bonus of representing IPMS most years. We have long had a reciprocal agreement that ensures that each organisation has the opportunity to represent themselves at the other’s annual championships. There is the obvious cross-over in membership but it is also about supporting the broader hobby and working with each other rather than as rivals. After all, we all need a healthy hobby in order for us to survive.

Attending a show as an IPMS representative means that I don’t have quite the freedom to wander around as I normally would. My ability to do so very much depends on the size of the event and how busy it is. My primary Continue reading “Viewpoint – July 2017”

Viewpoint – June 2017

The middle of last month saw IPMS (UK) have its Annual General Meeting. It marks a renewal point in our year as it it the place where we (the Executive Committee) must report back to our membership on what we have achieved in the past 12 months and how the Society is operating. We can put forward proposals to change aspects of how the Society operates and allow the membership to vote on such matters. It is also a place where members can air their views, propose their own changes and also to stand for election to the Executive Committee (EC).

This year was particularly rewarding in terms of elections because we welcomed five completely new faces to the EC. They bring with them fresh enthusiasm, potentially new ideas and above all a willingness to move the Society forwards. It also proved the value of the AGM in giving members the opportunity to debate the proposals in an open forum. One of the Resolutions tabled by a member sparked a useful debate. It was immediately clear that whilst the people attending the AGM understood the principle behind what was being proposed and broadly supported it, the solution on the table was not one that they were prepared to vote for. A useful debate ensued and a general canvassing of those present made it clear that a better course of action would be to withdraw the Resolution and look at alternative processes to achieve the same end in a more open and transparent way.

It is probably this technical and often dry process that dissuades so many from attending the AGM. All members have a vote but only a small number choose to exercise that right. Over the years we have increased the Continue reading “Viewpoint – June 2017”

Viewpoint – May 2017

If you’ve been involved in this hobby for any length of time then you can’t help but notice how it constantly changes. Some of those changes are obvious, whilst others are more subtle and don’t become clear unless you make comparisons with what was happening say, 10 years ago. It’s all part of being a vibrant hobby. If everything stayed the same all the time then it would very quickly begin to stagnate.

Change is healthy, even if at times it makes us uncomfortable. It refreshes, it brings in new concepts and it challenges what we know and are comfortable with. There will always be some who fight against change, who feel that the status quo must be maintained, but they miss the fundamental truth that discovering new things will help us to retain our enthusiasm for the hobby. The same can be said of your career or your life in general, but let’s not get too evangelical because this is about the hobby that you and I pursue.

I’ve been around modelling for the past four decades. I’ve seen it grow and change massively in that time, but I’ve also seen that some things remain constant. Technology has changed, making a big difference in the general quality of kits that are available. However, it is dangerous to assume that this automatically consigns older kits to the scrap heap. There are 40 and 50 year-old kits out there that can comfortably stand alongside  many kits that have been released in the past 10 years in terms of their quality and finesse.

One of the most exciting developments in our hobby in the 21st Century has been the growth of 3d printing technology. There is an awful lot of ignorance and misunderstanding out there about what is (and is not) possible at present and a vastly over-optimistic assumption about how quickly it will replace the traditional injection moulded product, but the potential is vast and it is already making significant impact on our hobby.

You won’t be seeing full kits that you can order online and then ‘print’ on your home 3d printer anytime in the next 10-20 years. We’re a long way from the high quality printer that is affordable to the average modeller. Continue reading “Viewpoint – May 2017”

Viewpoint – April 2017

Modellers tend to be creatures of habit. We mostly stick to the subjects we like. We generally build in a constant scale and we often develop particular styles and methods of construction as we become more experienced.

It isn’t a hard and fast rule and I sometimes spread my building across many genres of modelling, but for more than 30 years my subject and scale of choice was 1/35 scale and (mostly) modern armour. Even within those parameters, I had particular favourites. Engineer and recovery vehicles were always on the agenda, as were any and all variants of the M113 Armoured Personnel Carrier. Over 20+ years I must have built in excess of 30 M113 kits, nearly all of them different and very few of them in American markings.

But things move on and as anyone who follows this column on a regular basis will know, I made the momentous decision to change my allegiance to 1/48 scale armour a few years ago. It was a combination of factors that brought about this move to a new scale. I felt increasingly overwhelmed with the sheer Continue reading “Viewpoint – April 2017”

Viewpoint – March 2017

So much of what we do is about perception. We are reliant on the information that others provide and all too often we base our opinions on the information that is provided for us, rather than making any real effort to find things out for ourselves.

I was reminded of this recently when I saw a conversation on one of the online forums I frequent. The thing that shocked me most was that the arguments were old ones; they were resurfacing and reinforcing old perceptions, old prejudices, old assumptions about our importance in the world order.

It’s no secret that my preferred modelling scale these days is 1/48; often referred to as ‘quarter scale’ because a quarter of an inch equates to one foot, or more arrogantly by some as TOTS – ‘the one true scale’. The reality is that my preferred scale is a minority one in armour terms. It’s a niche interest in a Continue reading “Viewpoint – March 2017”

Viewpoint – February 2017

I was reminded recently that I’ve been a member of IPMS (UK) for nearly 30 years. It came as a shock to think that I had been part of the Society for that long because it doesn’t seem like it at all. Yet, so much has changed in that time, in my own life, in the Society and in the wider hobby not to mention the world as a whole.

Back then, the Internet was a new and curious technology that few people understood the potential of. Mobile phones were the size of house bricks (almost literally) and their battery packs even bigger. I well remember attending a seminar at college, promoting the newly developed digital camera technology – at the time it was little more than a converted Nikon F4 that offered tiny (by today’s standards) images. Me and my fellow photography students looked at each other and thought ‘it’ll never catch on’…

I joined IPMS (UK) about a year after I started work. I can’t remember the precise motivation but I was clearly in the mood to get involved in the hobby in Continue reading “Viewpoint – February 2017”

Viewpoint – January 2017

The face of our hobby has changed massively over the past 20 years. Technology has played a fundamental part in those changes for any number of reasons. Changes in the way models are designed have led to a huge expansion in the number of manufacturers out there who are producing high quality plastic kits. Allied to this has been a huge growth in the number of small (and not so small) aftermarket companies that are releasing equally high quality and often very niche products.

Much of the expansion has been the result of the Internet taking hold of our lives, for better or for worse. Our knowledge of, and access to, manufacturers in other countries around the world is infinitely greater than it was in the 1980s and early 1990s. It has also opened our eyes to how the hobby operates in other countries. A great example is the consistent level of commentary about Tamiya ‘re-boxing’ Italeri kits. We in the western hemisphere question why Tamiya would bother to do this, not realising that they have been doing so for the past 40 years for the domestic Japanese market. That’s the difference. Pre-Internet, this part of their operation was hidden from much of the rest of the world because those kits rarely left Japan. Post-Internet, when anything Continue reading “Viewpoint – January 2017”